The Archaeology of Equality and Inequality
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 18: 369-399 (Volume publication date October 1989)
R Paynter
In lieu of an abstract, the publisher reproduces the first page of the article. (Link)

“The Archaeology of Equality and Inequality” wasn’t the article I expected it to be based on the title.  I didn’t have detailed expectations, but when I read the one paragraph that spoke to how analysis of skeletal remains, burial practices, styles on ceramics, variances in structures could be used to study relations of equality and inequality, I recognized this subject matter to fit my expectations.  In place of a discussion of artifacts and remnants of structures and the contents of burials was a discussion of archaeological theory.  I gained insight as to why the discussion went the one way instead of the other while reading an earlier review written by Bruce Trigger, “Archaeology at the Crossroads:  What’s new?:”

By the 1950s, a growing number of archaeologists were smarting from the charge that their discipline was descriptive rather than theoretical in orientation and that they were the not very intelligent playboys of anthropology.

Given that there is a struggle regarding archaeological theory, I understand why Paynter organized his discussion of the study of equality and inequality in the context of neoevolutionism and criticisms of neoevolutionism.  I found various particulars of the discussion interesting and I will return to some of them later in the week.  Earlier last week I came across the following resource and found it helpful:

A free lecture at iTunes U, “Theories in Anthropology(#16 on the list once you click to the overview page),” provides a good overview of the development of anthropological theory (Evolutionism, Historical Particularism, Structural Functionalism, Neoevolutionism, Post-modernism, Feminist Perspectives…).  The lecture is provided by the School of Human Evolution & Social Change College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Arizona State University.